Capitol Daily Memo: Common Core bills lead to exchange with Secretary of Education

SB 287 passed the Senate yesterday on a 50-23-2 vote and now heads to the governor for his signature. The bill would give Utah the ability to exit any agreement involving the state’s core curriculum for public schools for any reason. The bill specifically mentions the following reasons:

  • The cost of developing or implementing standards is too high
  • The standards are inconsistent with community values
  • The agreement violates federal law or conflicts with state law
  • The agreement requires the state to include student data or records of teacher performance in a national or multi-national database
  • The agreement imposes curriculum, assessment or data-tracking requirements on home school or private school students

This bill, along with SCR 13, a bill that would urge the State Board of Education to reconsider its decision to adopt Common Core standards, seems to have encouraged Superintendent Larry Shumway to send a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, asserting the state board’s “right to complete control of Utah’s learning standards in all areas of our public education curriculum.” 

In response, Secretary Duncan sent a letter “to confirm our full and unqualified agreement with your letter and your understanding of the law regarding state control over K-12 learning standards.” Duncan added, “States have the sole right to set learning standards.”

This correspondence raises a question: Does Utah have any need to be concerned about the state’s adoption of the Common Core? Opinions on this question vary widely (for example, see here, here and here). You can listen to our brief thoughts on the subject by going here, and we’ll give more details in a later post.

What do you think? Should Utahns be concerned about the Common Core and should Utah take proactive steps to maintain the autonomy of its K-12 state school standards?